To Block or Not To Block?
That is the question when it comes to knitting. You have made a lovely shawl with some beautiful yarn. It looks good as is. You wear it, people say it’s lovely, but something is missing. What do you do?
Do you block it?
Most knitters will say, “YES” to blocking. “Absolutely block your garment. The stitches will shine through, and the compliments you will get from it don’t hurt either.”
I’m going to answer a few common questions below.
• Will all fibers block?
• What items are needed block the garment?
• Where to purchase the supplies for blocking?
• How to block a shawl.
Let’s get started.
Blocking Mats: Foam rubber mats fit together like puzzle pieces to make the size and shape you need. It is an affordable and portable alternative to blocking boards. One side is smooth, one side has texture. The mats shown can be purchased online at www.KnitPicks.com. You get nine 12″ grey squares in the set. If you want colorful mats, check out amazon.com.
Baggy here: I like the mats, they are soft and squishy. Good for a scratching too, but don’t tell Kathy.
T-Pins. Pins that are shaped like a capital T, made of nickel plated steel. The pins hold your garment in place on the mats. These can be purchased at retailers like Jo-Ann’s, Michaels, Target, and even office supply retailers like Office Depot and Staples.
Fabric Wash: Some fibers, even after knitting, still feel a little rough. Washing the fabric usually will soften the garment. You do not use the washing machine for these laundry washes. SOAK, EUCALAN, UNICORN FIBER WASH, are a few good soaps. Use a capful in kitchen sink, let the shawl sit for 15 minutes, and ring out excess water from garment. No rinsing needed.
As shown in the picture, this shawlette is being wet blocked with T pins and blocking mats. Cat not included.
Baggy here again: As you can see, I am a very efficient worker. I am keep the shawl in place with my body, and relax. Sometimes I even make the extra effort to move a pin when it gets in my way.
Acrylic yarns will block if steam is used instead of water. Using your steam iron, set the temp on high and with the shawl pinned, hold the iron close to the shawl, not touching it. Press the steam button to apply steam to shawl.
You can block any type of natural fiber for any type of garment. Animal fibers, like wool, alpaca, yak will wet block nicely. Even cotton yarn will block. This pink, green and white shawl took almost 3 days to block since cotton is a heavier weighted yarn. As you work, remember to get the knitting into the desired shape without stretching it out or damaging the fibers.
With so many yarns out there, why not take some time to block that garment?
Baggy here: Some might be asking, what is blocking? It is a technique for stretching, easing, and redistributing stitches in a finished piece of hand knitting. Blocking creates an even fabric, making it easy to work with and nice to wear. And you thought all I did was lay around!